, attached to 2011-08-10

Review by lazyblazers

lazyblazers alright, so this was the final night of my four-night phish run. after driving something like 1,000 miles from eastern washington to the coast and down through california to tahoe, walking through the gates into the “arena” for the last time was bittersweet. i’d been so happy with the previous three shows that it was hard to imagine that show would turn out to be equally exciting. but, of course, it was, because that’s the kind of band phish is.

really sharp version of dogs stole things to open. nothing like getting a bust-out that’s well-jammed taboot. i was even closer to the stage for this show than i had been for night one, and it was apparent right off the bat that things were clicking for the band again, much like they had during the gorge shows (and hadn’t during the previous tahoe show). this was my first faulty plan, and it was a lot hotter than it should have been in the number two slot. it seemed like it was only a matter of time until something crazy happened with the band playing like this.

things slowed down a bit, though, with poor heart, and then alaska. i much prefer alaska as a TAB song, and it always sounds a bit off to me when phish plays it. that said, this version was one of the better ones i’ve heard from them…and it led into halley’s, which i can’t complain about. i knew i was setting myself up for disappointment hoping to get a long halley’s here, so i just enjoyed what we got, which was another great vocal throwdown in the vein of meat from the previous night.

it’s ice is a great song, and this version was fast without sacrificing precision. one of those phish songs i could hear at every show and never get bored with. following it with when the circus comes was an interesting choice. i’ve always loved phish’s version of this song, and it was one i could check off the “have seen live” list. the solo didn’t really go anywhere, but like most solos out of wading in the velvet sea, simplicity works in this song, and the soaring licks suited the falling night just fine.

ya mar was wonderful, especially with page and mike plinking and thumping away, respectively. this song really seemed to kick things back into high gear, just in time for a fascinatingly weird, space-y stash that hinted at what was to come in set two. some might call a “ripcord” here as trey moves into stash, but it seems to me like an excellent example of the band realizing that the jam was petering out. as interesting as the stash was, it seemed to reach an obvious end and then we jumped into funky bitch, which is becoming a staple song lately. i don’t really care, though, because every single version absolutely rips, and this one was no exception.

instant karma! was fun, and definitely executed better than rocket man the night before. antelope worked as a set closer, and was a solid version, but definitely inferior to the gorge version. all in all, this was probably the best first set of the gorge and tahoe runs.

i absolutely love this second set. with the possible exception of guyute, the guys are doing interesting things throughout and with the absolute abandon that comes from being so skilled with your instrument that you don’t have to think out every move ahead of time. when things started off with disease, i was torn: would this turn out to be another 25 minute space jam? and if so, how would they make it sonically distinct from last night’s light and the gorge’s rock and roll?

i needn’t have worried. the disease got a bit spacey but mostly stayed within the confines of a jam led by some of trey’s best guitar work of the gorge-tahoe run. then it segued satisfactorily into runaway jim, which somehow melded the spaciness of the disease jam with jim’s bluegrass roots. from there, what we got was a run from jim to ghost to golden age to 2001 to sally, which was ultimately punctuated by random fireworks being set off behind the stage from down the street. this entire run of songs, along with featuring some excellent segues, was wrapped in the ambient-space-rock of the gorge rock and roll and the tahoe light, but that “jam” was simply spread out across six songs and 45 minutes. this was pure phish, taking the ambient sound that had worked over the last few nights and spreading it out over a number of songs to keep the approach fresh. when things finally wound up after sally, i was almost disappointed to hear guyute start, as i’d hope they’d create something like a “space set”.


wading in the velvet sea seemed like a perfect ballad for me to end the run on, and a great way to cool things down slightly before launching into a HUGE YEM. by this point i was right up against the stage, and as a result i had to fend off a bunch of morons jumping up and down on my toes and elbowing me over and over in the face, chest, and arms, but what i could hear of this YEM while defending myself was amazing. i suppose it’s a testament to how much it stirred the crowd up that i was almost inadvertently beaten to death by excited phans.

i like show of life, in theory, and this version was a bit spicy towards the end, but the whole time i was thinking to myself “please don’t let this be the closer”. fortunately, the lights didn’t come up after, and the band went into a solid version of good times bad times (which was also the closer at my first ever phish show).

i’d hesitate to rank this show *above* either gorge show, but it’s surely on par with them, and it finds a way to make itself stand out among the four shows of the gorge-tahoe run with an unexpectedly heavy first set and a second set that ranks (for me) right up there with the rock and roll -> meatstick -> boogie on of a few nights before.


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